Government Purchase Card
(Formerly Known as IMPAC Card)

CW4 Leslie Carroll

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"Congratulations, you have been chosen to be our Government Purchase Card (GPC) holder for the unit." If these words strike fear and dread into your very soul, you are not alone. Everyone has heard or knows of someone who abused their privileges as a government credit card holder. Making matters worse is the lack of strictly written guidance on what a credit card holder can and cannot do. Rules are different from installation to installation. There are however, some definite GPC rules and ethics involved, no matter where you are stationed.

Definitions
   There are two individuals involved with each and every purchase. They are the Cardholder and the Approving Official.

    The Cardholder is the individual to whom a card is issued. The card bears this individual’s name and may only be used by this individual to pay for authorized US Government purchases. All purchases, which the card will pay for, must comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), agency regulations and established procedures. Each cardholder will reconcile his monthly statement and forward the reconciled statement through his Approving Official.

    The Approving Official is the cardholder’s immediate supervisor or a higher-level official. The approving authority approves and verifies each purchase made by the cardholder. Therefore, a cardholder cannot be his own approving official. That would remove an important "check and balance" of the system. A cardholder may not be an approving official for his supervisor for ethical reasons. The Approving Official is responsible for, at a minimum, reviewing his cardholder’s monthly statement of account and verifying all transactions as necessary government purchases or services according to the FAR and agency regulations.

Cardholder’s Responsibilities
   The Cardholder’s responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that the item/service is authorized for credit card purchase. For assistance, contact the supporting Property Book Officer or Supply Support Activity (SSA).

  • Obtaining the Approving Official’s approval before purchase or placement of orders.

  • Obtaining customer copies of credit card receipts for over-the-counter purchases.

  • Picking up items or arranging for direct delivery by the vendor. Conducting visual inspection of supplies and services and obtaining billing invoices/shipping documentation from shipments.

  • Hand-carrying the original, completed supply requisition to the supporting PBO for determination of the Accounting Requirements Code (ARC). A copy of accountable purchase receipts must be hand-carried to the PBO within five days of purchase.

  • Maintaining a file of credit card documentation, charge card receipts, delivery tickets and monthly billing statements. This file must be maintained for undisputed transactions for three years. Documentation of disputed purchases must be maintained until the dispute is resolved and then held for three years.

Approving Official’s Responsibilities
   The Approving Official’s responsibilities include:

  • Approving all credit card transactions before purchase.

  • Reconciling the cardholder’s monthly credit card statements using the Approving Official’s monthly summary statement. Verifying that all transactions are in the interest of the government and that purchases are according to FAR small purchase provisions.

  • Signing monthly summary statements to show that statements have been reconciled with all known purchases.

  • Ensuring a file of credit card documentation that includes a copy of all the cardholder’s monthly billing statements.

Establishing an Account
   (Note: These procedures are changing to electronic certification and authentication.

  

    Cards will be mailed to the DOC upon receipt of the account’s set-up information. Cardholders will be notified and the individual listed on the account will sign for the GPC card. Also, the appropriate PBO will be notified by the DOC when approval is granted for the cardholder to procure nonexpendable/accountable items with credit cards.

A Form of Local Purchase
  

Splitting of Purchases
  

Illegal Purchases
   The following types of items are always excluded from purchase no matter where you are stationed:

  • Items critical to a weapon system’s safe operation.

  • Items with special security characteristics.

  • Items of a dangerous nature such as explosives and munitions.

  • Aviation assemblies containing time change components unless approval is obtained from Aviation Systems Command.

  • Small arms or commercial weapons.

  • Communications securitymaterial of any kind.

    Individuals and units do get in trouble using the GPC.  Most of these problems are due to oversights or ignorance.  Hopefully, the explanations and rules outlined here will keep us from going through the GPC purchase process blindly and allow us to use the card to its full advantage to support our units.

Return to Summer 2000